by: Francesca Lorén
Last week MTV premiered its first pilot for a a show called “Faking It.”I saw the trailer and was horrified. From what I gathered in that moment, the show seemed to follow the lives of Karma and Amy, two straight girls accidentally outed as lesbians, who then choose to upkeep this lifestyle as a lie because it has since launched them into instant popularity at their ridiculously unrealistic high school. So, according to MTV, identifying as queer in high school leads to universal praise and celebrity status? That’s bullshit, and complete glamorization. Pitching queerness in high school as something trendy is highly problematic when any socially aware individual knows kids all over are bullied relentlessly for who they love. Case in point, even in the name of fun and humor, the premise of this show seems TOTALLY whack. However, show producer Carter Convington (10 Things I Hate About You, Greek) promises more. According to an interview with Buzzfeed, he was “initially aghast”and “offended by the idea”when MTV first approached him with the shows storyline. However, after extensive modifications put forth by him, he thinks his colleagues and himself have effectively “handled the subject matter in way that gives the show way more resonance.”Covington is openly gay and beyond happily married….so does that mean we automatically trust him not to make a mess of the potentially catastrophic subjects this story poses. Are we in good hands? Should we be enthralled or appalled?
It is not my style to scream foul play right away and throw my hands up in exasperation at the first sight of trouble. So, naturally curious as I am, I watched the whole damn thing in order to be equipped with an opinion. This what I learned…(both the good and the bad)
Basically, this show employs the same structural DNA as Awkward, trivializing situations with totally serious public perception issues (exchange suicide attempt for coming out). This has got people frustrated! A blogger on Autostraddle, a girl-on-girl culture web mag, recently posted on exactly this and asked, “Why does MTV prefer to deal with things like teen suicide and LGB issues by creating fake scenarios instead of real ones? I guess it’s a good way to seem edgy and hip without actually doing anything.”Yeah, it’s problematic. And not gonna lie, I almost puked at the (Cue Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”) expected girl-on-girl kiss that brings the first episode to a close. Girls pretending to be gay to garner attention is a frustrating stereotype as it is, and publicly “proving”Amy and Karma’s fake relationship was the sole purpose this kiss served.
Best said in an article by PopWatch critiquing the show, “Treating lesbianism as an identifier that can be worn or shed on a whim, like black nail polish or a cheerleader’s uniform? Not cool. But that’s not exactly what Faking It does, or at least not what it wants to do –specifically because at the end of the pilot, Amy realizes that she may not exactly be pretending to be in love with Karma.”Boom, there is the plot twist! After that aforementioned performance kiss, Amy gets this look on her face…of extreme confusion and possibly total satisfaction. Maybe she’s the real deal. And if she’s actually queer (recognizing suppressed feelings or validating sexual fluidity) and not just “faking it,”that’s enough to make me optimistic. Amy’s realization of genuine feelings towards Karma is the one way I see that many of the issues in the show could actually be ameliorated…And it’s most likely going to happen. It’s almost crystal clear! So predictable! But it’s a necessary shift in the show to make it even remotely legitimate. Covington assures us that the fake-lesbian storyline “will not be the life of the series. It’s not sustainable. I think it’s a good model that you can start with a premise. And if you build the show and the characters and everything, the premise can kind of fall away, and you still want to follow these people’s lives.”
As seemingly pitched, can this show really deliver as a layer cake of wonderfulness for the LGBTQ+ community? Buzzfeed describes it as “a timely new comedy the cast and crew believe will break new ground and make life better for LGBTQ youth.”Autostraddle also shares a justifiable point “Sure, it’s important to realistically depict how hard high school is for LGBTQ kids, too. But there’s something to be said for what kids can pick up from seeing acceptance, rather than rejection, as the accepted model of behavior.”If this show is genuinely a judgement-free exposé of teen sexuality, it has the potential to explore some awesome topics. And Autostraddle also remarks, “The truth is that there are lots of people who identify as straight and don’t realize that they have any same-sex attraction until they find that one person or are otherwise opened up to that possibility.”Certainly not for all, but denial is a stage some LGBTQ are extremely familiar with and this may be what Amy faces next. Autostraddle, clearly hopeful, leaves us with this, “The story follows best friends Amy and Karma who take being mistaken for a lesbian couple at an ultra-liberal high school as a golden opportunity to improve their social standing, isn’t about two fake lesbians; it’s about one fake lesbian and one very confused best friend who is probably an actual lesbian. In fact, it’s the fake relationship that enables Amy’s gradual revelation of her own Sapphic leanings, and it happens in a way that a lot of queer women can relate to.”
I (and others) may be totally off in all of the predictions but I’m choosing to remain hopeful in its potential. I invite you to spend (waste?) 21 minutes of your life watching MTV’s first episode of “Faking it”so that you can be up to speed on MTV’s newest stint.
If you dare…click here (after 5/22)
Or if you’re just looking for a quick ass re-cap…. click here
SPOILER ALERT: No matter the potential, this is no L-Word.